|Furniture Design, Exhibition
|24 January 2019 to 13 April 2019
|Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Described as “an interpretation of a post-explosion phenomenon”, Beirut-based design studio David/Nicolas’ solo show at New York’s Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 'Supernova', draws inspiration from both celestial and terrestrial phenomena for a collection of exquisitely crafted tables, cabinets and rugs that exemplify the beauty of regeneration. Just as the death of a star can usher the birth of an even brighter heavenly body, the works on display demonstrate how clashing materials and forms, and conflicting design references, can be transformed into something beautifully unique. At the same time, they reflect on the continuous regeneration and transformation of Beirut, the home town of the Studio’s co-founders David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem which in their own words is a city that “is reborn over and over again”.
A melting pot for cultures, religions, and people, Beirut’s amalgamation of Middle Eastern and European architecture and design has also been a source of inspiration for the two designers’ distinctive aesthetic. Rooted in a wide range of influences, from Oriental geometry, to antique furniture, to robots, space travel and the music of Daft Punk, the duo’s “retro-futuristic” style eschews convenient labels in favour of creative boldness, eclectically mixing classic, contemporary and futuristic elements.
Running until April 13, 2019, the exhibition brings together two bodies of work, Constellation and Monocle, that represent two distinct design propositions that nevertheless share the duo’s innovative use of materials, exquisite craftsmanship, and obsessive attention to detail. In Constellation, the designers combine sumptuous stone or timber blocks with pristine metallic details to create a series of solid tables whose monumental silhouettes are imbued with a primordial sensibility.
Constellation C080 is a 966-kilo demountable dining table made out of travertine stone whose geometric finesse and sculptural robustness is truly impressive. Set on three pillared legs which have been sliced in two, obliquely cropped and lined in silvered brass, and featuring a three-metre table top in three segments connected by undulating brass seams, the piece could very well have been crafted by some unknown ancient civilization. Similar in weight, materials and shapes, Constellation C040 stands out in its massive, ribbed travertine legs and graphical top which is inlaid with a honed stainless-steel pattern. Inlay design patterns are also featured in Constellation C041 and Constellation C060 whose rich, dark chocolate colour, courtesy of palm wood veneer, is viscerally juxtaposed with the series’ paler travertine pieces.
The designers’ Monocle series mixes marquetry, marble, and glass into intricate compositions of meticulous detailing and laborious craftsmanship; for a cabinet such as Monocle 010 for example, more than 10 craftsmen were needed for its completion. Sculpted out of solid Granadillo wood, featuring an elaborate herringbone pattern and rounded edges, and crowned by a polished marble top and an ethereal glass display, it treads a fine line between artwork and furniture.
As elaborately crafted, the Studio’s new wall paneling system is characterized by meticulously carved horizontal indentations along vertical lines which make the oak panels look like they have been stitched together. Decorative in appearance, the indentations also serve a practical purpose by allowing wooden shelves to be arranged at will. It is such attention to detail that make David/Nicolas’ “functional sculpture” a marvel to look at and a wonder to use.